I hear pastors talk about the big explosion that is going to happen suddenly in their churches that will put their attendance numbers off the charts. For years they have been preaching and prophesying that, and yet to date there has not even been a SNAP, CRACKLE or POP.
I know how it is, everyone wants to not only hit home runs, but to do so each time with the bases loaded. It is better known as the GRAND SLAM. We all want to be the BRONX BOMBERS of yesteryear. Oh sure it happens, but it surely is the exception and not the rule. Many major league baseball players hit few home runs in their careers, and some never hit a GRAND SLAMMER. But they can single the opposition to death! You know how it goes – single, bunt, single and the run scores. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One run at a time! That is how you build a winning team.
THE SINGLE-MINDED JESUS
“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost ONE
of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture,
and go after the ONE which is lost, until he finds it?”
over ONE sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine
righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Whether we like it or not:
THE GOOD SHEPHERD’S PRIORITY, BUT RATHER
IT IS THE ONE LOST SHEEP THAT IS HIS
Frankly, many in the modern church get their mathematics from the world and not from Christ.
Or again, we read Jesus words in Luke 15:8-10,
does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search
“And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and
neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found
“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the
There we are again! However, the nine secure coins do not have a neighborhood party held in recognition of their reliability and accessibility. No, the NINE-TENTHS get totally upstaged by the lost-and-found as well as jubilantly celebrated ONE-TENTH of her savings. To many, such a huge fractionally-unbalanced celebration is intolerable.
Get use to it! This is how Heaven thinks! This is the mind of Christ, even though we might consider it a gross infraction. Something isn’t it? In Luke 15, it is THE ONE LOST SHEEP, THE ONE LOST COIN, and then THE ONE LOST SON that get all the attention, both in their lostness and their foundness.
Jesus did not die for a big blob of humanity. Jesus died for one sinner at a time. Jesus died for your sins and for my sins. Jesus died with me on his mind and with you on His mind. Jesus drank my cup of eternal suffering and your cup of eternal suffering. Jesus endured my Hell and He endured your Hell. Oh how He loves you and oh how He loves me. He welcomes back to Himself one repentant sinner at a time and holds a salvation celebration as we see in Luke 15:23-24,
was lost, and has been found….”
SAVED IS NO GREATER THAN WHEN ONE IS SAVED.”
I must confess my sin here. When I was in the evangelistic crusade ministry, I was elated when several responded to the call to salvation. However, I was also known to say to my wife despondently when "JUST ONE" person responded, “ONLY ONE PERSON WAS SAVED TONIGHT.” God forgive me for being infected with the modern mega-mentality and not having the single-minded heart of Christ.
A HEART FOR ONE
Buck Helm – he was the clerk of the Longshoreman’s Union. Big guy! Nobody knew Buck Helm. But would you believe that Leslie Stahl on CBS interrupted NFL football three times in two hours with a special report…just on Buck Helm? She even had his middle name by the third special report. He’d become a national celebrity. ONE man!
Is ONE man that important…for 200 people to search for him… for total strangers to risk their own lives digging for six hours…for Buck Helm? Is one man that important? I mean, not only a heart for ONE, but a completely UNKNOWN ONE?
Lets get real here! The test gets harder! I have seen and been aware of some men and women in life that I have disliked. However, I can also say that I have never met anyone that I wanted to see go to Hell! Have you? Neither does the Lord! God says of Himself in II Peter 3:9,
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness,
but is patient toward you, not wishing for ANY to perish
That is exactly why the Lord says in Romans 10:13,
Lord shall be saved.”
WE HAVE A HEART FOR EACH ONE.”
It is as simple as this:
Do you remember Phillip in Acts 8 when he was carrying on that tremendous revival in Samaria in Acts 8? We read in Acts 8:12-13,
“But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about
the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they
“And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he
continued on with Phillip; and as he observed signs
and great miracles taking place, he was
“But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Arise and go south
to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.’”
Listen, when God tells you and me to go, we had better get up and go. And when Philip went, he came across an Ethiopian in a chariot, and the Holy Spirit said to Philip in Acts 8:29,
Philip heard the Holy Spirit and obeyed Him. He left his happening-crusade in Samaria, ran to a Holy Spirit-designated Ethiopian sitting in a chariot, brought the man to faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, and baptized him in some miracle-desert water. Philip left multitudes, led ONE man to Christ and impacted an entire continent for the Kingdom of God. Not a bad day’s work!
I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t believe it with all of my heart. It is this:
ON EARTH IS INCOMPLETE AND A FAILURE UNLESS HE
BRINGS AT THE LEAST ONE SINNER TO CHRIST.”
THE UNLIKELY ONE
“Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias;
and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said,
‘Behold, here I am Lord.’”
“And the Lord said to Him, ‘Arise and to the street called Straight,
and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus
Likely story! Ananias balked! He began to question the Lord about the wisdom of going to meet this madman named Saul who was Christ’s arch-persecutor and the murderer of many Christians. This to Ananias did not seem like a good idea whatsoever. Of course, he did not know that Christ had already humbled terrible-Saul into a blind mute. He did not know that God had been working in Saul’s life, and my, my, my how He had been working. Little did Ananias know that God was sending him to the would-be greatest missionary that the world had ever seen. We read in Acts 9:15,
“But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of
Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings
To Ananias I am sure that the Lord’s words did not make any sense. This man named Saul already had an infamous reputation. Saul was intoxicated with rage against and hatred of Christ and His disciples. A chosen vessel of Christ? Most unlikely! Let’s face the facts that Ananias assumed he would face:
THE DRUNKENESS OF THE MIND.”
And what is more:
THAN THE VENTING OF IT.”
Ananias fully expected Saul to erupt all over Damascus like a volcano with his hot molten lava. Go and visit this maniac? Are you kidding? God had told Ananias that Saul was now blind and praying. (Acts 9:11-12) Well, that might be, but maybe it would be just as well to send Saul a Get-Well Card with some flowers. On second thought, “Hello, is this the florist? Do you sell thistles? Can you deliver a bouquet of thorns? How about a bucket of green slime?” I don’t know all of the thoughts that were racing through the mind of Ananias. I am sure that he felt that God was sending him into the mouth of the lion.
Let’s get some very important things straight here! First, we do not read anything else or know anything else about Ananias than what we are simply told about him in Acts 9:10,
That was it! He wasn’t an ordained minister, or a Rabbi, or a Bishop, or some ecclesiastical biggie. Just a disciple of Christ who with the rest of the followers of Christ in Damascus were waiting for the hot breath of Saul to breathe on them too! Ananias no doubt had been expecting that before the week was over, he with others would have the cold chains of arrest put on their wrists or worse. Nobody knew when Saul was coming, but just that he was coming. They with Ananias did not know that Saul was already there. It was the best kept secret in town.
Second, Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit tells ordinary believers where they are to go, and to whom they are to go. He has everyone’s name, address and phone number. And when God says, “GO,” and if we don’t go and share Jesus:
PURPOSE FOR LIVING.”
We are not really in God’s army until we hear His “GO,” and we obey His command to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with “Whosoever Will.” Only then are we soldiers of the cross! Only then! Until then, all we are doing is blowing smoke and taking up space. So, “GO!” Get your face out of here and get over to the Alhambra Apartment Complex on West Cheyenne Drive, apartment 12C, to a man named Garcia. Hit the road Jack and take your Bible with you – you’re going to need it! Don’t be caught without THE BOOK in your hand – the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Yes sir and yes ma’am:
EACH UNBELIEVER COME TO CHRIST ONE-BY-ONE.”
That’s how it works! Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Evangelism is not a method, but a ONE-ON-ONE confrontation in love. And what should you say? Get a hold of what Ananias said to Saul in the house on Straight Street, as we read his words in Acts 9:17,
Of course! We all can and must say that! Why? Because Jesus commands all of us in Matthew 28:19, “GO!” He is our commanding officer! He owns us! He sends us! “The Lord Jesus has sent me to you!”
Ananias went to Saul and we read in Acts 9:18 the glorious result as Ananias laid his hands upon Saul,
scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and
How it all takes place will vary from person to person and from street to street! Jim Burns in his book Radically Committed, tells what for him was an unforgettable experience as a senior in high school. A girl named Marie had been in his classes since early elementary school. To his knowledge, Jim had never once spoken to her. She was very intelligent, but not very attractive; and many of the kids made fun of her. Jim was sure this caused Marie to withdraw and shy away from people even more.
Marie lived around the corner from Jim while they were growing up, but they never once walked home together. In fact, he confesses with embarrassment that there were times he would walk to the other side of the street because he didn’t want anyone to think that he walked home with Marie.
Jim could not fathom the thought that here was a person who had eaten alone at school every day for five and a half years. His experience in school had been so different.
Eight years after Jim’s conversation with Marie he was speaking at a Campus Life Camp in Southern California. After his first talk one of the key girl leaders walked up to him with young high school girls hanging all around her and said to him, “Do you remember me?” Jim said, “You look like a girl I knew in high school.” She said, “That’s me, I’m Marie.” She was now in charge of the Women’s Ministry for an entire county in Southern California. She then added, “Thanks for having lunch with me ‘way back then.” Jim said he cried."
A CERTAIN ONE
Have you ever noticed the reoccurring phrase in the Bible:
We read in Luke 10:25,
saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”
If there is one thing the Christian Gospel makes clear, it is that in the long run, the truthful answer to that question is, “You don’t have to do anything but repent and believe.” On this occasion, however, Jesus lets that go because He knows that if He plays into this lawyer’s hand a bit, He can make a much stronger and necessary point. The lawyer asks Him what to do, and so Jesus goes straight for what He knew this man already regarded as the biggest “TO DO” list in all the world – THE LAW OF GOD.
Jesus says, “Well, what is written in the Law? What’s your scholarly assessment of it?” Without missing a beat, the lawyer reels off a rendering of Deuteronomy 6:5 as the summary of the whole law of God. And he’s right:
AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH,
AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOU SHALL LOVE
YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
On another occasion when someone asked Jesus for the greatest commandment of them all, that same verse was also Jesus’ own answer. (Matthew 22:37-39) So in this situation, what else can Jesus say to this lawyer except, “You are absolutely correct. Do this and you will live.” Of course:
TO-SUBTLE WAY TO FORCE THIS MAN BACK TO GRACE.”
No one who is honest would claim he has always led a perfect life of perfect love. So then, if perfection is the requirement for admission into the kingdom, then each one of us is in very dire straights (unless there is such a thing as grace, that is).
This particular lawyer goes on to prove that very point. As a sharp lawyer he paid attention to and defined every word. It is said that someone once came up to a lawyer and said, “If I give you $100.00, will you answer two questions for me?” The lawyer immediately replied, “Sure, now what is your second question?”
Similarly the lawyer here is watching every word and so seeks a definition for a particular term – neighbor. We read his words to Jesus in Luke 10:29,
is my neighbor?’”
Preferably it will be a definition of “neighbor” that will get him off the hook. You see, he is fully aware that there are people in this world whom he had not loved as a neighbor. But he could justify himself if he proved that the people he had unlovingly ignored hadn’t really fit into the “neighbor definition” in the first place.
“Who is my neighbor?” the lawyer asks. And his hope is that Jesus will say something to the effect, “Very well: henceforth a neighbor (hereafter referred to as the ‘the party of the first part’) shall be defined as meaning a person of Jewish descent whose legal residence is within a radius of no more than three statute miles from one’s own legal residence, unless there is another person of Jewish descent (hereafter referred to as the ‘party of the second part’) living closer to the ‘party of the first part’ than is oneself, in which case the ‘party of the second part’ is to be construed as the neighbor to the ‘party of the first part.’ And then of course one is then oneself relieved of all responsibility of any kind to the matters hereto appertaining. Whew!
However, Jesus does not give a legal definition of what a neighbor really is, but instead tells a story which begins in Luke 10:30 with the words,
What about this certain man? Well, “he was going down from Jerusalem.” That’s how Jesus begins. The Greek text begins with ANTHROPOS TIS, which being translated means “A certain man.” I suppose more colloquially it would be translated “Some Guy.” A certain fellow, some guy, some anonymous fellow of indeterminate age, of unspecified ethnicity, and of unknown origins was taking a trip. He could be “anybody,” and that is just exactly Jesus’ point – our neighbor is anybody!
The lawyer probably wanted to interrupt Jesus right here, and say,
CAN YOU DESCRIBE HIM? IS IT ANYONE I MIGHT KNOW? IS
HE JEWISH? A GENTILE? GAY OR STRAIGHT? ROMAN
OR GREEK? SLAVE OR FREE/ WHAT MAN?
Even had the lawyer asked Jesus these things, Jesus would have not have answered. Instead he answers by saying, “A certain man, a nameless, faceless fellow was taking at trip and got mugged. They beat him half-senseless, took his wallet and then left the guy in his underwear, crumpled in the mud of a ditch.”
Jesus then goes on, “The man is left like roadkill, and two religious men, a Priest and a Levite, treat him like roadkill too, as they actually walk on the other side of the street to avoid seeing him, much less helping him.”
Jesus goes on, “A certain third passerby is a Samaritan.” At this point, I can see the lawyer clenching his teeth. A Samaritan?! Today it would be like hearing the word “Nazi” or “Taliban.” Samaritans of course were not like Nazis or Taliban or Al Qaeda, but they were regarded just as darkly.
Nevertheless, Jesus uses a Samaritan as the parable’s hero. The Samaritan approaches the man in the ditch, does first aid in the field, and then takes the man to a hotel, where he put him up, pays for everything, and promises to return in a day or two to see how he’s doing and to settle the account.
Now at this point you assume that Jesus will say, “You asked who your neighbor is, and now I’m telling you – your neighbor is that anonymous fellow in the ditch.” That would make sense for Jesus to say that, right? The man had asked, “Who is my neighbor?” and so Jesus shows a faceless and nameless crime victim as his parabolic answer to that question. Wrong! We must take a careful note of the fact that that is not what Jesus says at all!
TREAT YOU, WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE, WHETHER OR NOT THEY
SEEM LIKE FOLKS WITH WHOM YOU HAVE SOME STUFF
IN COMMON, IS NOT NEARLY SO IMPORTANT AS
MAKING SURE THAT WHOEVER THEY ARE,
So in the end, Jesus is saying never mind who your neighbor is! Rather, are you that certain neighbor to everyone you meet? Now you’re getting it!
When I came to Christ, I came as an individual. That’s the way you came, if you came right! Here me:
I had to be convicted of my personal sin. I had to take the personal step of putting my life under His command and my sin under His blood. I had to take the step out of the crowd, the mob that is always, and I repeat, that is always going the wrong way. I had to say, “Look, that’s not right! This is right! They’re wrong! This is the decision that I make for Christ and for me!"
And whatever brickbats are involved – I started taking them. I realized, “If I’ve ever been an individualist, it’s now. I used to think that I was a non-conformist, and that I traveled with the non-conforming crowd. But the day that I came to Christ, I found out what non-conformity was really like for the first time in my life. I made a decision as a individualist against the whole world, against the whole drift of things, and for the whole Lord Jesus Christ. Not just sometimes, but in all things and in all times. I am living simply put, the true ONE-ON-ONE LIFE, and Life’s name is Jesus! Amen!